The 5 Greatest Pork Buns in New York
Pork belly buns are almost a delicacy here, but in Asia, gua bao are the equivalent of hamburgers -- cheap, easy to make, and unequivocally delicious.
I ate my fill of the street-food snack in Taiwan over the summer, and I was shocked at how large they are. The buns were the sizes of small coin wallets, and the juicy pork belly sat marinating in brine alongside pickled vegetables, a tub of hoisin sauce, cilantro, and crushed peanuts. Since I got back home, I've been scouring the city for the best gua baos.
Here are my five favorites:
Eddie Huang's BaoHaus is a great drunk-food establishment near Union Square. Although the portions are a bit small, BaoHaus has become synonymous with the gua bao obsession. What you're looking for is the Chairman Bao: a gua bao stuffed with pork, crushed peanuts, cilantro, pickled mustard relish, and Taiwanese red sugar. 238 East 14th Street, 646-669-8889
4. Jum Mum
Jum Mum is a relatively new steamed-bun contender. Owned by the same people who manage Spot Dessert Bar a few doors down, Jum Mum gives you three large, generously filled buns for $6. Look for the Emperor Bun filled with pork belly, a couple pieces of shredded lettuce, and cilantro paired with a tangy hoisin sauce. 5 St. Marks Place, 212 673-6745
3. Rai Rai Ken
Rai Rai Ken might be known for its affordable ramen, but the gua bao is most definitely a standout. First of all, it's $7.50 for two carefully assembled beauties: Your standard steamed bun, a nicely cooked pork belly, some crunchy cucumbers, lettuce, and mayonnaise. They also throw in a side of chile sauce for those craving an extra kick. 218 East 10th Street, 212-477-7030
238 E. 14th St., New York, NY